Have you seen a stink bug hanging around in your home – or possibly smelled one?
These brown, shield-shaped bugs are often to be seen in US households and you might come across them from time to time in your home, especially in the winter.
Just how worried should you be?
Stink bugs are not colony bugs and they may not congregate in massive numbers, but they are attracted to the same sorts of spaces and environments, so if you are playing host to one stink bug, you probably do have others around too.
Is Seeing One Stink Bug Normal?
Unfortunately, it can be fairly normal, yes.
Stink bugs like to move into the home, especially in cold conditions, and it is not uncommon to find them in the house when the weather is cold, seeking warmth and shelter.
These bugs are usually more of a problem in terms of agriculture, as they can wreak havoc on fields of crops and on fruit trees, but you still need to be aware of their presence in your home and deal with them if you do find them.
One of the biggest problems with stink bugs is the foul odor they can produce.
Their name is well-earned and should not be disregarded; they can certainly do not smell good.
If you squash one, or even upset it by poking at it, it will release a smell somewhat like rotten vegetables.
Not something you want in the home!
What Is A Stink Bug?
Native to Eastern Asia, the stink bug is considered an invasive species in the US, where it has spread quickly since its introduction in the 1990s because it has no natural predators and there is nothing to keep it in check.
It is found in over forty states, and it can decimate crops, as well as annoy homeowners by getting into their homes and spreading its unpleasant scent everywhere.
Few people like sharing their homes with insects, let alone ones that smell awful.
Stink bugs can get to almost two centimeters in length, and they are capable of flight, with their wings folding beneath protective shells when not in use.
These insects often migrate indoors during the late summer or the early fall, when temperatures are starting to drop and the bugs are looking for a warm, sheltered spot to stay in.
If you have seen them in your garden during the warmer months, you will need to be particularly vigilant as winter approaches.
Adult stink bugs can live for up to eight months, so they are not among the most short-lived insects.
If you have them in your home, they may be trying to over-winter to take advantage of the next spring.
Do Lone Stink Bugs Exist?
Although stink bugs do travel alone, if your home is attractive and accessible to them, it is easy to end up with a lot indoors.
However, yes, lone stink bugs do exist, so you shouldn’t automatically assume your home is overrun if you have encountered one of these bugs.
It is a good idea to investigate and see how many seem to be around.
Check dark, undisturbed corners and warm spots where the bugs might thrive unnoticed.
If you have a stink bug infestation, you may wish to call in professionals to assess and deal with it.
Because of the smell they produce, they can be difficult to handle, and it’s not a good idea to just blindly attack the problem without some assistance from an expert.
Are Stink Bugs Dangerous?
No, stink bugs are not dangerous.
If you were to ingest one, you might suffer because they are technically poisonous, but it is unlikely that you’re going to be doing that, so what other problems could you encounter?
Stink bugs are not venomous and they don’t bite, so that isn’t an issue you need to be concerned about.
However, their presence could cause an allergic reaction for some people, and if you have other allergies, you should be somewhat wary of stink bugs.
They might cause skin irritation, dermatitis, itchy eyes, teary eyes, or a runny nose.
This is relatively rare, but if you are experiencing allergic symptoms, make sure you wash any inflamed skin with mild soap and water, and then get someone else to deal with the issue.
It is best not to touch stink bugs, so if you need to handle them, brush them into a container, rather than touching them directly.
This should decrease the chances of you getting an allergic reaction to them.
Stink bugs don’t pose any other danger, so if you aren’t allergic, they are just a nuisance that smells bad – but you will probably still want to get rid of them!
Why Are There Stink Bugs In My Home?
Stink bugs will usually come into your home because they are looking for warmth and shelter against the cold weather.
Remember, they are native to Asia, and may find other parts of the world too cold for their liking.
You should not find stink bugs indoors in the summer except by accident; they may wander through, but they will not stay.
In the winter, they will take advantage of your home and try to keep out of the cold weather.
Is Having Stink Bugs In My Home Bad?
This depends on your perspective. Stink bugs will not hurt you or your home. They do not eat books, food, furnishings, clothing, or anything else really.
Once in your home, they are in overwintering mode, and do not often search for food.
Instead, they look for dark corners and hide themselves away, waiting for the warm weather.
They do not bite and they do not cause damage, so how bad are they really?
Well, one or two stink bugs might not be a problem – and indeed, you may not even notice that they are there, in which case they will simply go outdoors again come spring or summer. No harm done to anyone.
However, usually you will end up with more than a couple of stink bugs in your home, and then it becomes an issue.
Often, if your home is accessible and attractive to one or two of these insects, it will be accessible and attractive to many more.
If you don’t end up with lots of stink bugs, you may be able to just ignore their presence, or remove them from the home in a container.
If you do find an infestation, it is definitely bad because it will make your home smell very unpleasant, and it will not be easy to get rid of.
Overall, however, stink bugs only cause a nuisance; they do not present any danger to people, pets, or furnishings inside the home.
What Should I Do If I Have Stink Bugs In My Home?
A small population can simply be relocated by hand.
You will want to do this gently, as crushing or upsetting the stink bugs will cause them to release their pungent smell.
Get a small container like a drinking glass and a piece of stiff cardboard.
Trap the stink bug under the container, and then slide the card underneath.
Taking the stink bug to an outdoor bin is then the best disposal option.
This may seem harsh, but stink bugs are an invasive species that are getting out of hand, so it is best not to just release them into the wild again.
If you have a lot of stink bugs in your home, you may wish to call professionals in to deal with them.
Large numbers will be difficult to get rid of effectively, and could end up as a very smelly job, as you are bound to upset at least some as you attempt to remove them.
A professional will be able to properly assess the situation and recommend the best removal method.
If you have a lot of stink bugs, it may be better to use chemical treatments to deal with them, rather than trying to manually collect and remove them.
Don’t ignore a stink bug infestation; you will end up regretting it as the smell in your home gets increasingly less pleasant.
Who wants to host Thanksgiving or Christmas with the pungent smell of rotten cucumber permeating the home?
How Do I Prevent Stink Bugs In My Home?
Prevention is better than cure in many cases, so how can you deter stink bugs from coming into the house in the first place?
Repair the outside of your home before the cold weather starts. This means sealing off cracks with caulk or sealant, particularly around chimneys and utility pipes.
This has the bonus effect of keeping your home warmer.
Remember that stink bugs can fly, so you need to look at high up cracks, not just the low down ones.
Keep an eye out for screens or weather stripping that is in need of repair too. Essentially, make your home as insect-proof as possible!
Next, look out for any moist parts of the home. Most pest species require water in order to survive, and getting rid of damp spots will go a long way to getting rid of all kinds of unpopular house guests, not just stink bugs.
Fix dripping faucets and leaky pipes, and keep your home dry to deter these insects from coming in.
You should also avoid leaving lights on with open doors or windows.
Lights attract stink bugs, and it’s a good idea to close blinds, turn off porch lights, and shut curtains when evening sets in, especially during the autumn months, when you’re more likely to have lights turned on.
If you are bringing in boxes from the garage (possibly of holiday decorations), it’s also a good idea to check these for any hitchhiking stink bugs that might be trying to get inside.
Remember, your garage is warmer than the outdoors, so they may already be sheltering there in order to stay away from the cold.
They will be glad to be carried indoors and will make themselves very comfortable inside, so it’s a good idea to brush down and look over boxes before carrying them in.
You can also deter stink bugs by keeping your outdoor space tidy.
Stack firewood away from the house (as stink bugs often like to shelter inside it) and keep your bushes and shrubs near the home tidy so as to provide less cover.
Conclusion: Is One Stink Bug Reason To Worry?
One stink bug is not a cause for major concern, but it should prompt you to check whether there are more around.
If there are a lot of stink bugs in your home, it’s important to call in professionals to deal with them, as they can be problematic to handle and will make your home smell horrible.
Alright, that’s it for this article, here’s a few hand selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:
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